Q: What motivated the subject of the study?
Professor Sagardot noted that in early February British media sources began to report that the promotion of the COVID-19 vaccine was promoting, but the American media did not begin to report these results until April – when they did so, emphasizing a warning to the optimistic chronology predicted by scientists. He found the tone of numerous stories in major American news organizations, “Oh, a vaccine is not going to be developed in 2020, and even then, distribution will be a dream.”
He later noted that while the number of cases began to decline over the summer, there was still an endless stream of negative news about the epidemic. He felt as if the mainstream media was expressing a feeling, “We have put our lives on hold for so long, but nothing seems to be getting better,” even when the figures tell a different story. He wanted to explore this feeling of receiving endless negative messages: is it a real, meaningful form?
Q: What did you find?
We found that the major American media outlets were significantly more likely than the major international media, scientific journals, and smaller American media outlets to use a negative tone in stories about the epidemic.
For a lot of people, the gut reaction to this decision is, “Well, of course the tone will be negative. Millions are sick! Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost! “But I think it is important to note that we are releasing a relative statement. 15 or 20 The most widely read American news sources paint a significantly negative picture than the international media, and read less American news sources.
We also divided the level of negativity in the tone of news coverage with the number of daily cases, and found that for more well-read American news sources, the level of negativity continued to be high from March to the end of July. Cases fluctuate when they increase or decrease significantly.
One thing I find particularly interesting is that these news sources found that President Trump’s comments on hydroxy chloroquine have generated more articles than just social behavior or vaccine development.
Q: Why do you think the American media exaggerates negativity more than their non-Americans?
We say in the paper that negativity can be driven by the request of readers. The most widely read news articles on the New York Times website, whether they are about COVID-19 or something else, are more likely to be negative than well-read articles, according to our sample. Of course, we do not have enough evidence to say for sure that there is a causal relationship.
Another theory that we floated, but ultimately rejected, is that the tone may have something to do with audience bias. While we find that the New York Times is likely to take a similar negative tone in their epidemics as Fox News, we are curious to see how that negative can manifest differently in sales outlets with strongly biased owners.
Q: How does the tone of the messages we consume affect our feelings and opinions?
The feeling I have gained from participating in this research is that people reading every morning really affect their sense of urgency in the midst of epidemics. The media is really affected by how people think about this public health crisis. If the media chooses to emphasize negative storylines in response to readers’ demands, rather than responding to real scientific advances or changes in cassettes, it has implications for how we think and feel about the epidemic.
Q: What do you recommend Americans do to make sure they get the whole story about the epidemic?
One suggestion for me is to read additional articles from scientific journals. Like some leading magazines The Lancet And Natural, Provide free access to scientific documents on corona virus novel and vaccine development. In our research, we talked about how scientific journals functioned as a kind of secondary news during epidemics, so we thought they would be an interesting point to compare in our study. We now know that the scientific literature on epidemiology is less negative than articles in major American news organizations – so if people read the educational sources, they may make more nuanced conclusions about COVID-19.
I think this is also important – it applies not only to an infection but all the time – to read more widely and take everything you read with a grain of salt. I really like reading the New York Times, but it is worth expanding my perspective by reading the stories of reliable international news sources and the best science journals. If you do not diversify your message intake, you will not get the full picture.